Getting close with the GF100-200mm lens
I recently borrowed the FUJINON GF100-200mmF5.6 R LM OIS WR lens from Fujifilm Canada, with the eye to testing and reviewing the lens. To be honest, I was most interested in testing it for possible personal purchase than writing a review. Given that my friend Olaf has already written a thorough look at the lens, I thought I could be off the hook for the review. Before requesting the loaner lens, I gave Olaf a call to get his point of view. He basically told me what he wrote in his review: good quality lens, but a bit of a compromise too.
Now that I have used the lens, I feel compelled to write a review because there is a chance that Olaf damned the lens with faint praise. His review is positive, but I don’t believe it emphasizes enough what a really great lens this is. So, let me try.
I do agree with Olaf that the lens is a compromise of sorts. This isn’t a bad thing necessarily. In order to keep the price reasonable (for medium-format glass) and to keep the size and weight down, Fujifilm settled on a not-so-fast f/5.6 maximum aperture. Since this is a constant aperture across the zoom range of the lens, that isn’t bad. Given the lens’s sharpness wide open, it’s actually really good. Also given how large and heavy Fujifilm would have to make this lens with a faster maximum aperture, I can live with f/5.6 and keeping the size manageable. With the built-in optical stabilization (5-stop OIS), the GF100-200 is quite easy to hand hold at fairly slow shutter speeds (I used it down to 1/60 sec).
I only had the lens for a short period, during which I was on the road a lot for work. So I shot my test images with the GF100-200 when and where I could, mostly very close to home. I did manage to take it for a weekend on Salt Spring Island in our Salish Sea.
The GF100-200mm lens impressed me from the first images I made. I shot nearly everything wide open and I liked everything about the rendering and sharpness of the lens, and the out-of-focus areas. I also shot extensively with the GF1.4X teleconverter attached to the GF100-200, which extends the focal length to 140-280mm and reduces the maximum aperture to f/8, without any noticeable decrease in image quality. If you are considering the lens, I recommend getting the teleconverter too. That extra reach can make a big difference in isolating your subject.
Speaking of isolating subjects, this is one of the best features of the GF100-200 lens. Be it a distant wave or landscape, abstracted architecture or a close-up in the garden, the lens got me closer than I can get with any other lens (that I can afford) on my 50S. This lens refined my seeing with the GFX in a way that I really enjoyed and want to expand on.
I also used the lens in the studio. As I normally shoot portraits at f/8, the GF100-200mm works perfectly well for studio portraits as well, if you don’t already have a dedicated portrait lens. Again, this lens is all about isolation, which is just what you want in a studio portrait.
Reach and isolation are my main reasons for using a telephoto lens. For the GFX 50S/R or the new 100, there aren’t many options. Given the outstanding image quality, the GF100-200 offers great value for the price. No faint praise here, this is a worthwhile addition to anyone’s GF lens collection. I ordered my today, along with the teleconverter. I can’t wait to have them available again.
NB: All images captured with the GF100-200mm lens on a GFX 50S. Sometimes with the GF1.4X teleconverter added to the mix.